It's still unclear what caused the natural gas pipeline leak that forced utility company Xcel Energy to cut power to some Summit County customers Monday morning as temperatures dipped to the lowest point so far this season.
Xcel representatives said crews are investigating what caused the pipe failure, which originated at a break in a seam where two pipelines came together. While it's unlikely the problem was caused by the wintery weather over the weekend, the colder conditions may have helped expose the issue, Xcel spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo said.
"All of a sudden, natural gas use goes up," she said.
Xcel Energy lost pressure on a natural gas pipeline that serves Breckenridge, Keystone and Frisco Sunday afternoon. Utility crews expected to have the problem resolved Sunday, but after working overnight were still asking residents to limit natural gas use through Monday afternoon.
"We really thought we were going to be able to make those repairs last night," Aguayo said Monday. "But there were more repairs needed than we anticipated so we weren't able to complete them."
The utility company sent apologies to impacted residents in a Summit County Alert notice that went out to local subscribers in a text message and email Monday.
"Xcel greatly appreciates your patience and understanding as they worked quickly and safely to resolve the issue," officials stated in the alert.
Customers were asked to turn down their thermostats two to three degrees and avoid the use of major natural gas appliances - including fireplaces, gas-fired hot tubs and dryers or appliances that use hot water, such as clothes washers and dishwashers - Sunday night and Monday while crews completed repairs, but the resulting conservation effort wasn't enough. Excel had to implement two 30-minute electric service interruptions Monday morning to further cut the use of natural gas while the line was repaired.
Temperatures dropped into the single digits overnight Sunday and into Monday morning, with wind chill values plunging as low as -15.